CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Texas Ranger under investigation for his inaction at Uvalde school massacre, sources tell CNN

Oct 25, 2022, 8:00 AM

Texas Ranger Ryan Kindell has been suspended from duty amid an investigation into what he did and d...

Texas Ranger Ryan Kindell has been suspended from duty amid an investigation into what he did and did not do during the Uvalde school massacre. Photo credit: Uvalde Game Warden.

 (CNN) — A member of the elite Texas Rangers unit has been suspended and is being investigated for the actions he failed to take during the long standoff at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, when a shooter was left unchallenged for more than an hour, sources close to the investigation told CNN.

Ranger Christopher Ryan Kindell told investigators he arrived at the school at about noon on May 24 and focused on supplying updates to his bosses, the sources said. He told investigators he had no discussions about options to breach the classroom, as a person in his position would have been expected to do, they added.

“My actions at the scene and during the event were minimal,” Kindell told investigators days after 19 children and two teachers were killed in the massacre, the sources familiar with the inquiry said.

Kindell is one of seven officers in the state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) referred for investigation by the body’s inspector general, the sources said.

When he announced the review, before the seven officers were referred for further investigation, DPS director Col. Steven McCraw said, “Every one of our officers will undergo scrutiny by the DA and an internal investigation — just because they didn’t violate the law, doesn’t mean they acted appropriately based on our policy.”

The general criticism of the failed law enforcement response is that active shooter protocols, which prioritize stopping the shooter immediately, were not followed. It took 77 minutes from the gunman entering the school for him to be confronted successfully.

CNN has attempted to contact Kindell and has not heard back. The DPS has also not responded to a request for comment on this story.

Kindell can be seen multiple times on footage from surveillance cameras and body cameras worn by other officers, often speaking on his phone, both inside and outside the school building.

He explained to investigators he was trying to make sense of the situation for his superiors, the sources close to the investigation said.

“I was trying to coordinate the state assets, for us to come in,” he said, according to the sources. “I was trying to get a good grasp of what I understood the situation to be and pass that up to the chain of command. And I was trying to get with the brass that I saw that was there, trying to get with them to do some type of coordination on the outside.”

He is seen inside the school hallway when a burst of gunfire comes from the classrooms where the gunman was.

“He’s still shooting,” he can be heard telling someone on the phone.

Less than three minutes later, he walks towards the classrooms, apparently offering to negotiate with the gunman, asking, “Does anyone know this kid’s name? I’ll try to talk to him.”

DPS chief McCraw has denounced similar attempts by then-school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo to negotiate with the shooter, saying it was the “wrong decision.”

McCraw told CNN after announcing the review that he would take responsibility if it was shown his department had failed. “I’ll be the first to resign, I’ll gladly resign, I’ll tender my resignation to the governor if I think there is any culpability in the Department of Public Safety. Period,” he said.

One of the seven officers referred to the inspector general, Sgt. Juan Maldonado, was served with termination papers on Friday, DPS said, and sources confirmed to CNN that it was a result of his role in the response that day. He was one of the first of a total 376 law enforcement officers to arrive at Robb Elementary.

CNN has also reported on Capt. Joel Betancourt, who ordered a strike team to halt even as the classrooms were being breached and the gunman killed. He told investigators he thought a better team was on its way. He remained on active duty as of last Thursday. Betancourt did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him by CNN.

Crimson Elizondo, also referred for investigation, left the DPS earlier this year. She took a job with the school district’s police force and was fired from that position after CNN revealed what she said and did on May 24. She declined to give a comment to CNN at the time.

The Texas Rangers is a special group within Texas DPS, with higher standards for recruitment. Their storied history goes back to before Texas joined the United States and in a section on the DPS website, former Ranger Captain Bob Crowder is quoted as saying, “A Ranger is an officer who is able to handle any given situation without definite instructions from his commanding officer or higher authority. This ability must be proven before a man becomes a Ranger.”

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Texas Ranger under investigation for his inaction at Uvalde school massacre, sources tell CNN